Need Advice on tools for my shop.

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Forum topic by dawa82 posted 01-18-2011 01:11 PM 1596 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View dawa82's profile


3 posts in 3660 days

01-18-2011 01:11 PM

Hello Everyone,

I’ve been wanting to turn a section of my garage in to a wood shop. So far I have a Ridgid 10in table saw, a 10in Ryobi miter saw and some hand tools. I’ve saved up about $2500 and wanted to add a Drill press, Bandsaw, mini Lathe, Planer and a sander to the shop.

I know I won’t be able to get all of these Items for the amount I saved up but I would like to know what tools should I add first to the shop and some brands I should research? Also any advice on dust control would be great. as of right now I use a shop vac as dust control.

Wood working is a hobby for me and I would love to start doing small projects ex: jewelry box or a tool box. Any help or info would be much appreciated.

Aloha (Thank You),


22 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4047 days

#1 posted 01-18-2011 04:14 PM

Questions like this come up often and the right answer is “it depends what you want to do”. Don’t buy tools for the sake of buying tools. Buy the tools that you need to do the work you want to do.

You may find that you only need a small bench top drill press (I did). You may discover the same thing with the band saw or you may find that you don’t need one at all. Depending on the wood you buy you may or may not need a jointer. Some people find that hand held power sanders are all they need.

Note – if you get a lathe, plan on also getting a good setup for sharpening. Many don’t think of this until later.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View chrisstef's profile


18127 posts in 3979 days

#2 posted 01-18-2011 04:28 PM

Rich makes a great point there … im not expert and havent been doing this that long but heres an idea for ya. Pick out a project that you enjoy doing and start and finish it. Along the way im sure you will think of tools that would have made that job easier. These are the tools you need to buy. If you end up jointing only one board maybe you can get away wih a hand plane and not a $400 jointer.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Robinson's profile


52 posts in 3665 days

#3 posted 01-18-2011 04:37 PM

Very good starting answer richgreer… It always rubs me the wrong way when someone is just starting and asks about tools and the first response is something like “I have been doing this XX years and I know what you need. The following list of tools is what you should buy because I have long experience”... Poppycock! We are all different and all needs / wants are different. It is fine for people to tell someone what works for them and what they like but no one can just list off the proper tools for someone else very much beyond a hammer. :-)
I have a lot of preferences of my own but they are my own. “Guidance” is really helpful with tool choices but specific instructions as to what to buy are not.
Can you tell that a few guys on a “frugal” woodworking list I own recently took that approach and it annoyed the crap out of me? :-)
Done ranting.

-- Francis Robinson, Central Indiana, USA - - Shopsmith fanatic

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4734 days

#4 posted 01-18-2011 05:01 PM

There are a lot of workshops to search on this site. Even though we all do different things, you will benefit from this search. Turning just a section of your garage into a workshop indicates that there are other things going on in there that must also be considered. If neighbors are close by this can also impose limitations, especially as noise is concerned. Your family won’t like excessive noise either. Keep in mind the fact that garages are notoriously weak in electrical circuits, recepticles, and lighting. In many cases insulation is required in order to maintain a comfortable year around working climate. These are important details that must be addressed first.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View SPHinTampa's profile


567 posts in 4658 days

#5 posted 01-18-2011 05:56 PM

A couple of thoughts based on my experience:
- I did not see a router/router table on your list – I use my router on every project (big or small). Building a good router table is a very satisfying project. I use mine for profiling, joinery and patterned parts. If you like box making, then the Incra jig is a really worth it
- I would get a separator (the one from harbor freight worked for me or you can easily build) that sits on a 5 gallon drum to put in front of your shop vac … it really helps extend your shop vac fill time when you get a planer and jointer
- The need for a planer and jointer is highly dependent on your choice of wood and what is sold locally. If you plan to work with stuff that you can buy dimensioned and don’t mind the extra cost then you dont need them. I can only buy oak, maple and poplar as 4s stock in Tampa and I like to work in mahogany and walnut so I have these two machines
- I use my bandsaw for cutting curves and resawing veneer. I lasted a long time before I needed a bandsaw on projects because I needed to learn how to cut straight lines first (harder than it sounds). A good jig saw will get 80% of your needs solved.
- an oscillating bench sander is great if you buy the bandsaw and plan on cutting a lot of curves
- belt bench sanders are great if you like build boxes and need sand down small parts, box joints or dovetail joints
- if you are doing casework, then a pocket screw jig (splurge on the Kreg, it is worth it) and a biscuit joiner are very, very helpful
- I use my drill press less often than I thought (others will disagree). I end up using my plunge cut router to make straight holes. A good 18v cordless drill is essential.
- I bought a large dust collector and a shop filter for my garage because I could not stand the dust and both helped a lot. I did not put in duct work, I move my collector around.
- I consider the lathe a very different animal from the other tools. I consider it more as art. I really like my lathe but I am not good enough to use it in furniture projects and would almost consider it a separate but related hobby to woodworking. If you get a lathe, you will need tools, a grinder and a sharpening jig (I like the Oneway). Not cheap.
- Handplanes and scrapers … I did not start using these early enough. Small block planes are awesome for cleaning up joints. Scrapers are a lot faster and produce nicer results than sandpaper. Again, splurge on the Lie Nelson or the Veritas planes because they are so much more fun to use
- Handsaws – Again, I waited too long to get good quality saws. A flush cut saw and a japanese pull saw are great for little clean up tasks.

My personal experience … every time I purchased a cheap tool, if I really used it, I ended up going back to buy something much better quality. If I could do it over again. I would ask the same questions you are asking, buy fewer tools at much better quality.

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

View Vintagetoni's profile


58 posts in 3666 days

#6 posted 01-18-2011 06:26 PM


I consider myself a novice woodworker because I have little practical experience in my own shop and with setting up tools for a project. Yet I have read & collected books & magazines for twenty years learning the language and gleaning information to begin to understand what I wanted to do. I ached to have mentors but did not know anyone who could do that. I had no idea where to start or what to buy.

Classes…whether they were at Woodcraft (simple & inexpensive), Marc Adams School of Woodworking (awesome experiences with top drawer woodworkers from around the world) or other artisans who offered classes regionally in their own shops, associations, fairs, etc….helped me to experience working with the tools before buying any…hired mentors. (learned a simple thing like most the trigger handles on chop saws caused a cramp in the palm of my hand except a few that were better for a woman’s smaller grasp. Invaluable piece of info.) The classes offered tool lists that told me what I needed and gave me options depending on budget, etc. I even took classes in machine maintenance or tool specific classes (like a band saw class) to help me learn about the set up of those machines. They were wonderful and gave me the confidence to seek out used tools and to judge if they could work for me. The instructors were a great source of real practical shop information.

So with that info & little experience under my belt I developed a target list of tools with the brand, model number and new prices, locally and online and I started watching used tool markets….especially Craigslist…and sales. I would only buy one of my target tools if it was in shape I could handle and was no more than 50 – 60% of the new price. (Although I would pay more than that if someone wanted to sell me their Saw Stop!) If a tool was heavy and I was buying it new I also watched for free shipping sales…that has made a huge difference. For certain tools, I knew that several brands & models would work….as in the case of my band saw. It was fun to go to classes and when the talk turned to tools and we discussed our recent acquisitions I found I became relatively famous among my woodworking friends for my tool finds. $2,500 has gone a very long way for me buying like this and being patient …and having wonderful tools. At one point I had such good buys on tools much larger than I originally planned that I had to go through the decision of whether to change my whole idea of a shop or not….from using a shed bldg that was 14×18 with small all portable tools to building a larger building….the decision maker for me was the availability of a lovingly cared for Delta DJ20 8” long bed planer for a very attractive price. I had used one in classes and thought it was awesome.

Richgreer warned you planning for the cost of the sharpening set up if you want a lathe. Take note of that for sure! The joke on me was my $100 lathe. That was the one tool I hadn’t researched or used in a class yet so I had no framework for decision making. The gentleman who sold me the DJ20 had a lathe for sale. I offered him $100….all I was willing to risk knowing nothing about the tool or the craft. Approaching spinning wood with a big sharp tool in my hand seemed….just plain crazy….but I knew I wanted to learn. Eventually I took his lathe home for $100. After a week long class I loved turning and it is my favorite thing to do now and the lathe may be my best buy! The joke was I thought I was in the turning business for $100. $1,600 later of chucks, faceplates & tools I can really turn something. Sanding, buffing, embellishing….all more. In this instance the class and the research would have given me a much better idea of what to expect with necessary accessories. And that doesn’t include a slow speed grinder and good grinding wheels…but did include a sharpening jig because I wasn’t good at freehanding it.

In the end, I have acquired every tool that I have either used or on significant sale….with the exception of a table saw. Yet they look nice and function beautifully. Soon I will be posting shop pics….right now things are just getting moved into my shop and sorted out, arranged, adjusted, mobilized, etc.

Perhaps this isn’t the path you need or want to take but I wanted to share that it has worked well for me. The research and patience has given me a shop where I think I will be able to do just about anything I want and the confidence to try things I never dreamed. I hope as you define your woodworking path you have great tool hunting, love the tools you acquire, build beautiful things with them and make good friends along the way. toni

-- toni --- SW WI...working on shop setup....wish I could say diligently. "Time is a healer, a friend & a maker of dreams."

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3895 days

#7 posted 01-18-2011 06:30 PM

I’ve been into WW for about 8 years and I find that if I think I need a tool,doing the homework(research) on it helps a lot. Sometimes I find out I don’t really need it as bad as I thought as another tool will substitute nicely..i.e.plane versus joiner etc. If I still need it I usually end up with a good value for the buck rather than just going out and buying whatever.
Bottom line is (as others have pointed out) buy the tools YOU will use not what someone says you need.

-- Life is good.

View John Jerman's profile

John Jerman

8 posts in 3666 days

#8 posted 01-18-2011 07:02 PM

A lot of good advice and tips here.
What I would liked to emphsize is don’t be in a hurry to buy all your tools at once. Start a project and the project will help dictate tools that are absolutely necessary and tools that can wait. For example if your first project is a plywood bookcase then a planer and jointer won’t be needed.
Always buy quality tools, it makes the woodworking experience much more enjoyable!
Good luck

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3666 days

#9 posted 01-18-2011 07:04 PM

You can start out with quality hand tools and purchase the powered versions as needed. After handplaning a few hundred board feet, a $600 planer will feel like a bargain! Outstanding advice above regarding sharpening. With the exception of scary sharp systems, I find sharpening tools quite expensive. There’s no way around a quality sharpener if you’re buying a lathe. I spent more on my Tormek than I did on my lathe.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Loren's profile (online now)


10936 posts in 4620 days

#10 posted 01-18-2011 07:26 PM

I’d buy used machines opportunistically and invest in quality hand tools.

Hand tools tend to hold their value much better than new machinery,
but if you’re in Hawaii you’re in a whole different supply/demand environment
with tools than most of us.

View dawa82's profile


3 posts in 3660 days

#11 posted 01-18-2011 10:01 PM

Thank you Everyone for the wonderful advice. Looks like I got some research to do.

When reading the advice everyone had about the Lathe it really opened my eyes, I did not even think about having to buy a sharpener or even having to buy chucks and faceplates for it. I really thought the faceplates and chucks came with the Lathe. This has shown me that I have a lot more to research and maybe some classes I need to take.

I have never used a hand planer before and it sounds like it would benefit me to learn how to use one. There is so much great advice here and I’m very thankful for having such wonderful people to take the time to share the knowledge and experience they have for wood working with me.

I will keep everyone posted on my decisions I make.

Aloha, Derek

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4047 days

#12 posted 01-18-2011 10:23 PM

Many lathes come with one faceplate

Assume you buy a mini lathe for $400. Plan on cutting tools for $150 minimum, sharpening set up for $250, a good chuck for $200 and other miscellaneous stuff for $50. You can spend less on any of these items and you can pay a lot more. These estimates are what I think you need to spend for a good, but not great, start.

Don’t bother with a lathe if you are not ready to buy this support stuff.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Robinson's profile


52 posts in 3665 days

#13 posted 01-19-2011 12:40 AM

OK, now I have to disagree… Strongly… This comes across like a tool man Tim Taylor approach. I know hundreds of guys that are happily turning stuff with a total investment of less than $100 and enjoying the heck out of it. I am incredulous at your last statement… Maybe I just don’t belong here… I guess I should just go back to my little 500 to 600 member email list on Yahoo called “Frugal Fun Woodworking”. Lots of the members don’t have that kind of money in their whole shop including the building. Here I thought that they were having a blast then I find out that they are not fit to turn wood… Geeesh. :-(
And here I thought I had a nicely equipped mid sized shop.

-- Francis Robinson, Central Indiana, USA - - Shopsmith fanatic

View Vintagetoni's profile


58 posts in 3666 days

#14 posted 01-21-2011 12:25 AM

Hey, Robinson….don’t run away yet. What appeals to me is to be able to hear all approaches…and the whys. As a novice, it helps expand my thinking and find my own drummer. I appreciate the amazing diversity of style I see here, the helpfulness, the very positive attitudes and support that is given so promptly and willingly. perhaps I should have heard from you when I still thought I could turn for the first hundred. But given my weaknesses I must endure I have been happy to be forewarned to consider something and explore all the options…and to develop the confidence to make my own choices.

-- toni --- SW WI...working on shop setup....wish I could say diligently. "Time is a healer, a friend & a maker of dreams."

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3895 days

#15 posted 01-21-2011 02:13 AM

Toni: Sounds like you have a good attitude and a willingness to learn from others. I think you are going to like woodworking and will do well with your projects.

-- Life is good.

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